Summer of Love
In the fall of 1986, my future wife walked through the front door and over my toxic muscularity. Cynthia’s blonde hair, Jane Fonda body, and movie star appeal instantly stole my heart. I was forever hers. Now well into her second life term of marriage with me, Cynthia’s stiff sentence has been classified as an international crime by NATO.
Even the Vatican recently announced they will canonize Cynthia before the Lord takes her home in a golden chariot. A biblical honor reserved for the upper crust of recognized Martyrs, Saints, and accomplished Bodybuilders.
I met Cynthia in a religious hippy commune sitting in a gang-infested neighborhood on the northside of Chicago. The rundown building that housed the single men was missing most of its windows. At night you walked by twos, avoiding certain street corners. Cynthia was a spiritual tourist, a person who dropped in to help others and then split to move on with their lives. I was hiding from myself and Pablo Escobar.
The primary outreach of the commune was to love Jesus and serve the homeless and discarded. Cynthia worked with the poor and elderly, sharing God’s love to those in need. My caveman I.Q. and prideful muscles had me quickly assigned to an outdoor work crew for the safety of other community members.
My backbreaking labor on the construction crews helped pay the bills for distributing God’s charity. As a bonus, it burned off the extra pizza and hot dog calories that taunted us from every street corner of the city.
Back then, Jesus was my Lord, but Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to be the king of my heart. To fight the muscular action film star, I lifted weights every day to build a more significant temple for the Lord to fill. This argument usually fell on deaf ears except for the new single brothers moving in after years of ingesting drugs or serving hard time in prison.
Every night after work, I lived in the commune’s third-world gym with the other rocket scientists. Mopping five-hundred-degree tar all day in thermonuclear temperatures or pounding nails in the arctic winters was just a warmup for our lengthy iron sessions.
Afterwards while on the hunt for protein and carbs, we would walk through the rundown neighborhood spouting famous action film catchphrases in lame Austrian accents. Occasionally, a homeless person or lone street gang member would answer the proper retort from the movie. We would all break down laughing. Earning each other’s respect, we shook hands, traded names, and became street friends for life.
Believing it was time for Cynthia and me to begin our God-ordained journey to Holy Matrimony, I figured somebody better get the Lord’s will rolling. Hiding in the shadows of the commune’s cluttered kitchen, I looked for the perfect romantic spot to corner her.
Seeing Cynthia walking through the packed dining room wearing a bright green sweater and heavenly smile, I moved into place. She stopped to greet everybody along the way, which was blowing up my perfectly conceived plan. The seconds were ticking away, I began to panic. God’s window was closing.
I followed Cynthia to the large dish rack in a tiny alcove. Striking up a conversation with her, I fumbled through some crazy small talk. Finally, working up the nerve, I asked if she’d like to hang out sometime.
She kindly replied, “It might not be a good idea.” I asked if it was because of the strict relationship rules in the community?
“No, it’s because all the protein in your diet goes to your biceps, leaving very little for your brain.” Winking her eye, then laughing, Cynthia picked a plate from the dish rack. Turning on a dancer’s cue, she melted off into the long dinner line of starving community members.
Taken aback, I wondered how she had gotten her hands on my horrible college entrance exams.
I scanned the busy dining room filled with hungry disciples standing in line for mushroom gravy over butter coated rice. Who had sold me out? Obviously it was somebody jealous of my community bench press record.
Running out of the kitchen, I hightailed it down the dark alley. Lifting in the gym for hours, I tried to soothe the pain of Cynthia’s rejection of God’s will.
Decades later, I realized Cynthia was spot on. My biceps have always been bigger than my brain.